quilting · sewing

All But Dissertation: A Jelly Roll Quilt

Howdy friends! I’m still alive – I promise! I’ve been pretty busy the last few months, and as a result, have not been sewing a lot. Even though sewing is the thing that helps me relax, it seems to be the first thing to go when I get busy. I am in the midst of finishing my dissertation, which I will be defending at the end of the month. Honestly, many projects feel “too big” to tackle. That’s where a jelly roll quilt comes in.

I wanted something that could easily be done in small sewing sessions, so I decided to make a quilt. I feel like many projects have very few easy stopping points. Making a simple jelly roll quilt meant that I could sew for as little as 5 minutes and put it down for as long as necessary, and then I could still pick up where I left off. Also, I’m always cold and can never have too many couch blankets. It’s been a while since I made my first quilt, so it was time for another.

What is a Jelly Roll Quilt?

A jelly roll, as you may know, is a type of quilting fabric precut. The strips are 2.5″ x WOF (usually 42-44″) and usually about 40 are in a set. Quilting seam allowances are .25″, so these strips would be 2″ once sewn together. You start a jelly roll quilt (or jelly roll race) by sewing the short ends of these strips together to end up with a very long strip of fabric 2.5″ x 1600″ish. Then this strip is sliced to the desired length and those strips are sewn together on the long ends to make a quilt top. The jelly roll is enough to make a throw quilt about 55″ x 60″. 

riley blake designs bliss jelly roll | so rachel sews
The Fabric

I fell in love with the Riley Blake Designs Bliss fabric as soon as I saw it. It’s perfect: I’m currently obsessed with rose gold and the colors are beautiful. After swooning over it for probably months, I gave in and bought a jelly roll (or as they call it, rollie polie) and some binding fabric from Fat Quarter Shop. Then I got some yardage off Etsy for the backing. I considered doing my lines on the diagonal but decided it might require too much thought. That is something I would love to try in the future. Additionally, I would like to cut the jelly roll strips before sewing them so there is more variation in each row. Ultimately, I opted to do a less classic jelly roll quilt with both vertical and horizontal lines. The center panel is horizontal strips about 18″ wide, and each side panel is nine vertical strips about 60″ tall. 

all but dissertation jelly roll quilt top | so rachel sews

My backing fabric was 44″ wide, as many quilting fabrics are. Since my quilt is about 55″ wide, I needed to piece it. Fortunately, I saw a post on the Suzy Quilts blog about matching prints on quilt backs using a glue stick. I was dubious, but it worked! Up close, you can see the seam and also some tiny bits that aren’t matched, but from afar, you can’t tell at all! 

all but dissertation jelly roll quilt back | so rachel sews

As for the quilting: I opted to follow the seam lines, about 1/8″ away on one side. I had all sorts of ideas for this but decided to take the simple route. Now that it’s all done, I kinda wish I had done both sides of each seam. But done is better than perfect! I was a bit wary about the metallic hexagon fabric I had chosen for the binding, but it looks amazing now that it’s done! 

quilt binding with Hank the cat | so rachel sews
Hank is a very good binding helper.

Overall, I’m super happy with this quilt. I washed it immediately after finishing the binding and love the quilty goodness! I used three color catcher sheets because I was nervous about the black bleeding, but I probably only needed one. It’s super soft and cozy; Hank the cat and I cuddle under it every night! 

all but dissertation jelly roll quilt | so rachel sews
Hank the cat approves

Wish me luck this month as I finish my writing, preparing, and ultimately defending my dissertation! 🙂

2 thoughts on “All But Dissertation: A Jelly Roll Quilt

    1. Thank you!!! I’m so glad I saw your post when I did – now I get to show people pictures and ask them to find the seam, like a crazy person! 🙂

Leave a Reply